South Africa: Community Journalists Under Fire On the Xeno Frontline


Community journalists are often the closest reliable witnesses to what's going on 'on the ground', but it's a dangerous game when the beatings and the looting start - and bullets are flying around.

Cliff Shiko is a thin man with four cellphones and love for Fanta Orange cold drinks. He works as a presenter and current affairs producer for Alex FM, an institution in Alexandra, the cramped informal settlement next to Sandton in Gauteng.

Shiko is an exceptional talent, born and raised in Alex, with the skills to warrant being picked up by the SABC or other broadcasters, yet he remains, as others do, at his community radio station where tens of thousands of people rely on him daily for their local news in Sotho and English.

On Friday last week, he pulled up his bandage and showed me his wound from a cop's rubber bullet. It was a deep circular hole the size of a R5 coin.

It is the second time he has been shot while covering the news. He limped around Volume's office in Braamfontein as we prepared to record an episode of his podcast Local Focus and he told me what had happened.

"On Tuesday morning...

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